Monday, December 30, 2013

Unchastity in males

It is...common to speak of the animal impulse to these sins (unchastity) as one so strong that it is scarcely reasonable to expect its control; and, indeed, to regard their uncontrollable strength as rather an element of praiseworthy manhood. The shameless impudence of this is sufficiently rebuked by naming such men as Lee and Jackson, men as chaste as Dian, at whose mess-tables, though surrounded only by rough, battle-stained men, no word was ever heard or tolerated that would have tinged the cheeks of their pure and venerated wives and daughters. Had these heroes full manhood? Were they less men, because scrupulously chaste, than the creatures whose chosen trait of manhood is the one which most assimilates them to the ass and the goat? Faugh! He is most the man who can always govern himself. He who cannot is, to that extent, an imbecile.
—Robert L. Dabney, 1868, as reprinted in The Baptist Waymark, Vol. V, No. 1, Jan-June 1997, p. 4

Sunday, December 29, 2013

In memory: Hugh Bill McGuire, 1930-2013

Today at 2:30 p.m. a funeral service will be held at Parker Memorial Funeral Home in Bruce, Mississippi for Hugh Bill McGuire. He was born June 20, 1930 in Calhoun County, MS and died December 26, 2013 at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo at the age of 83. Interment will be in Spring Creek Cemetery, Banner, MS. Survivors include his wife, Alice Trumps McGuire; sons Hugh McGuire of Oakland, CA and Henry McGuire of Florence, MS; and daughter Sarah M. Tidwell of Oxford, MS. In addition many other family and friends.

There will be an hour of Sacred Harp singing at the funeral home, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Mr. Hugh Bill was quintessential Sacred Harp of the old school! All indigenous locations of Sacred Harp singings have their own traditions, and North Central Mississippi had some that were a little different than ours. But what is the essence of the tradition is unmistakable to those who know it. Mr. Hugh Bill had that. When I first saw him I immediately knew he was one to pay attention to. I am glad to have had the privilege to know him, and wish I had known him even better.

An "Interview with Hugh Bill McGuire, singer" can be found HERE.

Come, Holy Spirit, now impart,
Join ev'ry voice, join ev'ry heart;
Help us, O Lord, our voices raise,
And sing the great Redeemer's praise.

Dear brethren, we may meet no more
This side the bright, celestial shore;
But when relieved from toil and pain,
Dear brethren, we shall meet again.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

More things I've noticed

The message of the Daily News is that we are sitting on the edge of disaster.

Don't rue the patter of little feet. Far too soon they'll be gone.

Those who police the speech of others will soon be policed.

The grass is greener on the other side of the fence -- if your neighbor fertilizes and waters it.

Any two tuned by the same tuning fork will be in tune with one another.

When you do something "so no one will be offended" -- someone will be offended.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Philpot on the witness

"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." 1 John 5:10

The grand point to have decided in a man's bosom is, whether he is Christ's or not; and this is a problem which none but the Lord himself can solve. Blessed is he who has the witness in himself; and this he can only have by believing on the Son of God, as John speaks, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." This is the internal witness of the Spirit, as the Apostle declares, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." -- J.C. Philpot (1802-1869)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Miracles associated with the birth of Jesus

Just thinking about some of the miracles that are associated with the birth of Jesus.

The announcement, birth and naming of John the Baptist
The timing of the birth of Jesus (in God's predetermined time, e.g. Gal. 4:4)
The angelic appearance and announcement to Joseph
The angelic appearance to Mary
The miracle of conception without humans means
The announcement to the shepherds
The visit of the wise men and the star marking the place when the child had been moved

These are just a few things that come to mind, and some of them encompass more than just the things listed above (for example, the visit of the wise men includes God's warning to them). 

What miraculous events do you associate with the birth of Jesus the Christ of God?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Longfellow: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

According to what I've read, Longfellow wrote this poem on Christmas Day 1863 (some say 1864). He had been despondent since the death of his wife in 1861. As she was sealing some of her daughter's curls in an envelope, hot wax dripped on to her dress and a breeze fanned the smolder into a flame. Though he tried, and finally did, extinguish the fire -- and was himself burned in the process -- his wife died the next morning. His gloom was expressed in his diary we such entries as these:

“A ‘merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”

"How inexpressibly sad are all holidays."

"I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace."

To add to Longfellow's misery, his oldest son Charles joined the Union Army against his father's wishes. Not only that, he was severely injured in the Battle of New Hope Church (Virginia). It is with this background we understand the lines such as "'There is no peace on earth,' I said".

In 1872 the poem was set to music by the English organist John Baptiste Calkin, with a melody he had previously written.

"Christmas Bells"
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Further reading
The Civil War: beauty from tragedy, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"
The Cross of Snow

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas related quotes

...and a few things to read.

“How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, His precepts!” -- Benjamin Franklin

“Three phrases that sum up Christmas are: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included.” -- Unknown

“Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more....” -- Dr. Seuss

“I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up - they have no holidays.” -- Henny Youngman

“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” -- Oren Arnold

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” -- The Bible

* 5 Things Christians Should Stop Saying -- "...sometimes our attempts to say something spiritual actually come out unbiblical, or at a minimum, not very helpful."
* Couple has been living under a rock -- Literally!
* The Genuine Conflict Being Ignored in the Duck Dynasty Debate -- "Is anyone really surprised to discover that the Duck Dynasty star is opposed to homosexuality on moral grounds?...An evangelical Christian points out that there is, in fact, a tension between orthodox Christianity and homosexuality. Saying otherwise robs American society of an honest debate about how to reconcile sexual tolerance with religious tolerance."
* The Pull to be Everywhere During the Holidays -- "I loved holidays. Before marriage. Before the pull to be everywhere at the same time."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Longfellow: The Village Blacksmith

After Mother quoted "A Psalm of Life" and "Trees", I asked her if she remembered "The Village Blacksmith." (I actually didn't remember the title, but thought of the first two lines, "Under a spreading chestnut-tree, the village smithy stands..."). She professed to once knowing this good stout poem, but could only quote the first stanza. Read as Longfellow expounds on

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands. 

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man. 

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low. 

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor. 

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter's voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice. 

It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes. 

Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose. 

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, first published in 1840

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Kilmer; Trees

Another poem my mother likes to quote is "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918). It's not so long as Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life". With a little work, I might even be able to master this one!

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

-- This was originally published in Trees and Other Poems (Joyce Kilmer. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1914).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas lights, I mean links, X 7

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 5 things to know about ruling on Utah bigamy law -- "A landmark ruling from a federal judge in Utah striking down key parts of the state's polygamy laws handed a legal victory to polygamist families across the state — but the battle might not be over."
* Henry Wadsworth Longfellow website -- Poems and biography of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
* Honesty and Ethics Rating of Clergy Slides to New Low -- "Nurses again top list; lobbyists are worst"
* “I have the right to do anything” ( 1 Cor 6:12) Really? -- "Freedom is not the gauge by which we make decisions. Sometimes freedom is self-limited because there are other things that are more important beneficial, such as love."
* Paper or Plastic? Britain Joining Currency Trend -- "The decline of one of the world’s greatest inventions gained momentum on Wednesday when Britain announced that the British pound, a reserve currency that has been printed on cotton-based paper for 300 years, will be made from plastic."
* 'Virgin Births' Reveal Problems with Health Surveys -- The study's real finding is the problems inherent in researching sensitive information.
* Wise Men Worship and a Maniacal King Murders: A Christmas Reflection -- "Jesus is polarizing."

Longfellow: A Psalm of Life

The human mind is a strange and wonderful thing. I'm no doctor or scientist, but apparently everything  that has ever been downloaded into it is still in there somewhere, even if we can't always consciously access it. A crossword puzzle clue often evokes an immediate memory of a word or name that I could not have recalled with 3 hours of consistently racking the brain. Just the other day the word "Hidy" (the greeting, not the woman's name) drew up something from Cheech & Chong I hadn't thought of in 40 years (and I'd hit the delete button on that, if I knew how).

My mother is 98 years old. She may be a little forgetful at times, but she is still very sharp. On Tuesday she quoted to me the whole of Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life" (or which you may think of as "Footprints on the Sands of Time"). She didn't stumble through it, but quoted it with expression, as she had learned it. She learned it over 80 years ago for a county school competition and still remembers it. Several weeks ago my daughter recorded her quoting and posted it on YouTube. [Two corrections: 1. Mother just learned the poem in school, but not for the county school competition. That was something else. 2. My daughter posted it on Facebook, not YouTube. But now it is on YouTube: Mawmaw recites Longfellow]

Here's Longfellow's Psalm of Life:

A Psalm of Life
What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
   Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
   Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
   Learn to labor and to wait.

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, first published in 1838

Friday, December 20, 2013

When reality stars get real

[Disclaimer: I have never watched Duck Dynasty, neither do I have any intentions to do so. When I hear reality show, I run the other way.]

Whether or not you watch Duck Dynasty, you've probably heard the furor over family member Phil Robertson's comments about sin, homosexuality, promiscuity, bestiality and so forth. In what I read, though I did finally find it, most didn't want to discuss the text of Robertson's statements, but more the context. I'm not going to quote the comments either. Part of it is pretty plain (or not so pretty if you will).

Bottom line is that Phil Robertson's declaration of homosexuality as a sin has created a firestorm. GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz has called Phil's comments lies (“Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe.”). But they are his beliefs and opinions, not "lies" (Notice Cruz has an opinion about what "true Christians" believe).

The uproar really has A & E on the hot-seat. This is their bestseller, the cream of their crop. How will they walk the line to keep from offending either the viewers who are making the show a success and the detractors who would love to shut it down? I think they'll hope that time will heal the wounds and the show will go on.

This is an example of some of the kind of stuff I was thinking of in my blog post I wish a month ago -- the stopping of ears and gnashing of teeth. We have been so googley-eyed so long for politicians who never issue a statement that's not coated profusely in Teflon that we can't stand anyone just plainly saying what they believe when asked what they believe. GQ asked Phil. He told them. That's what plain folks do. That's free speech. You don't have to watch Duck Dynasty. You don't have to recommend it. You don't have to support its advertisers or its network.

Strange contradictions

"Thus amidst the strange contradictions which meet in a believing heart, he is never so prayerful as when he says nothing; never so wise as when he is the greatest fool; never so much alone as when most in company; and never so much under the power of an inward religion as when most separated from an outward one." -- J. C. Philpot

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Singing and dinner on the ground

Some interesting reads I've stumbled across (or been introduced to).

* All Day Singing, Dinner on the Ground, and an Upright Piano -- “One of the scenes in my novel, Catfish Alley, involves an all day singing and dinner on the ground. During the editing process, my New York editor asked me, 'Can’t you just say picnic?'”
* CDSS Sings—Imagining “The Last Words of Copernicus” -- "“The Last Words of Copernicus” is a lively yet simple shape-note song sung a cappella in four-part harmony."
* Gadsby's Hymns -- This site contains all the hymns from Gadsby's Selection, by author, first lines and meter.
* Southern Shape-Note Music -- "These are the syllables used by oldsters in rural regions of the South to intone the major scale, exactly as they were used in the British Isles long before Shakespeare."
* The Ground and the Fury -- "Every square foot of splintered table space was contested and every element of a good 'spread' subjected to off-stage critique."
* What’s on the Praise Menu? Examining the legacy of the gospel song -- “'What shall we sing?' has long been a dependable hot-button question in the church.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

With a name like that...

...I'd also go by "H."

For quite some time I've been compiling biographical information about composers and arrangers whose tunes are in the Cooper editions of The Sacred Harp. I hope to eventually publish a book for those composers represented in the 2012 edition of the Cooper Book. I've gotten behind with my "Old Path" posts while working on this. So I'm giving you a sample of  what I'm doing -- here's "H. McMath" today. Anyone who bore the name "Hachaliah" throughout life deserves to be mentioned somewhere! 

Yes, I'd probably go by "H. McMath" also.

McMath, Hachaliah Jr. (July 20, 1843—October 16, 1916) was the youngest of 13 children born in Georgia to Hachaliah McMath and Elizabeth Harbuck. The McMaths lived in Sumter County, Georgia, from where the senior Hachaliah was elected as a State Representative in 1840. This family was in Henry County, Alabama by 1860, though some returned to Georgia. Hachaliah Sr. & Elizabeth are buried at the Shiloh Baptist Cemetery in Sumter County. The senior McMath's tombstone is engraved "Hachariah," though Hachaliah is probably correct. The name is biblical, from Nehemiah 1:1: "The words of Nehemiah, son of Hachaliah..." Hachaliah McMath Jr. married Elizabeth Marietta Prudence Shelly (1840—1934) and they had 9 children. They lived at Cottonwood in Houston County, where he had resided and farmed 40 years at the time of his death due to stomach cancer. H. McMath was a Mason and a Confederate veteran. He had one song and two arrangements added to the book in the 1909 edition. Cooper is an arrangement of Jordan by William Billings (see Steel, page 86). The McMath version adds notes to the treble part in the first five measures (equivalent to the first line of poetry). In the Billing's original the trebles are silent (Cf. 1991 Edition, p. 66). Sweet Rest was replaced with Judge Jackson's (q.v.) My Mother's Gone in 1992.My Soul's Delight was removed in 2006 to make room for the Coda ending of Love at Home. In this tune McMath used the words ofPenick (p. 387) but rearranged the words of the stanza to "Here lies the dust of H. Mc, His spirit sings at home." These words are inscribed upon his tombstone, where he and his wife lie at rest in the Ramah Baptist Church Cemetery in Houston County, Alabama. Interestingly, the 17 year old is listed in his father's household in the 1860 Henry County census as "H. Mc."
489      Cooper (arranged)
519a    My Soul's Delight (removed 2006)
519b    Sweet Rest (removed 1992)

You can view his tombstone HERE.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A quota of quotables

"Oh, what a dreamy, shadowy thing is a mere profession of religion! And what a delusive cheat is all the pleasure to be gained by sin! How it leaves a soul naked and bare, wounded, stripped, and guilty before God! We have often promised ourselves pleasure in sin; and what have we found? The wormwood and the gall." -- J. C. Philpot

"I listened to a news broadcast/commentary on my way to work. They were discussing the shootings at the elementary school in Connecticut.   They each in turn expressed incredulity that a human being could be so evil as to do such a thing and were seeking answers...
"...such things occur not as “aberrations” to convince us of their oddity but in order that we might never forget the underlying corruption that is in us all by nature. It is truly of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed." -- Mike McInnis

"Please let's not shout and yell at the poor Wal-Mart greeters if they say 'Holiday'. They are just trying to be nice.  Those of us with Jesus in our hearts should be able to do the same." -- Dan Barnes

"Goats never make sound church members; only the sheep walk in His statutes." -- Stanley Phillips

"Anger is a growth-killing, soul-chilling sin." -- Dave Miller

"Every counterfeit Christian is a tribute to the value of Christianity." (We counterfeit things with value.) -- Adrian Rogers

“God knows when something glorious in the future necessitates something difficult in the present.” -- Beth Moore

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mentioned by Martin on Music

The following enticing comments were made by James S. Martin of Scurry, Texas. They are found in his piece, What’s on the Praise Menu?.

“A century of over-dependence on major key, 'happy-clappy' praise songs has dulled our senses to the more serious expressiveness of minor key songs.”

“Songs do not merely preach; they change our thinking in ways we are not aware of. 'Gospel songs' have probably done more to shape our concepts of salvation and conversion than all our preaching put together.”

"The Law allowed the poor to bring turtledoves, and God certainly honors the saint who brings Wonderful Story of Love. At some level, we are all musically poor. Our finest hymns are humble little offerings compared to the music of heaven. Jesus taught a powerful lesson from the lady who gave two mites, but He did not teach that we should all give two mites so that no one feels left out."

"We ought to maintain a healthy distrust of our natural inclinations in music."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Habits of a Less than Effective Leader by Dan Barnes

Some points he made were:

Don't just lead the people who are going the same direction as you. 
Don't criticize everyone.
Don't do everything.
Don't lie.
Don't hide stuff.
Don't take credit for someone else's work.  
Don't make excuses.
Don't take credit for God's stuff.

A War on Christmas

Is there a war on Christmas? By this time of year, whether or not there is a war on Christmas, at least the war over whether there is a war on Christmas is on. Here's a few samples:

* Not all Christians believe there is a 'War on Christmas' -- "A number of evangelicals distancing themselves from those concerned that the department store greeter said 'Happy holidays', instead of 'Merry Christmas'."
* To those who say there is no war on Christmas -- "The war on Christmas is really part of the larger war on Christianity and it concerns me that smart people like Rev. Scott and Evans don't seem to get that."
* A Review of The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse than You Thought -- "Gibson wants you to know that for those who direct the war on Christmas, there’s no difference between the popularized, secularized, beat-you-over-the-head-with-it commercial Christmas and the most profound religious understanding of the birth of Jesus Christ."
* Is there a War on Christmas? -- "Matters who you ask, on what day."

Though some people seem to deny it, these things do happen, as when these adorable little carolers told not to sing outside Winco. But is this a vast anti-Christmas conspiracy? I doubt it. One side might spin it as an anti-Christmas issue, while others might spin it as a safety issue. And on it goes.

Some companies want to be PC and not "appeal" to the Christian aspect of Christmas. Many employees simply don't know how to properly respond to certain situations. There are the atheists that are against any Christian notion of Christmas. Then again, there are Christians who don't believe the Bible teaches Christmas either.

In Paganism, Holidays and X-Mas. Tis the Season for Angry Christians Dan Barnes gives what I believe is very good advice (though I don't agree with all his op-ed piece):

"Please let's not shout and yell at the poor Wal-Mart greeters if they say 'Holiday'. They are just trying to be nice.  Those of us with Jesus in our hearts should be able to do the same." There is a time and place for citizens to oppose encroachment on what they hold important.  Fussing at someone who is simply trying to be nice to you isn't one of them.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

6 latest links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 15 Words and Phrases We Should Retire in 2013 -- "___ is the new ___"
* Fox News host Megyn Kelly says Jesus and Santa are white -- "Fox News host Megyn Kelly has made herself the center of a racial controversy by declaring that Jesus Christ and Santa Claus are white."
* Megyn Kelly on Santa, and dealing with critics -- "The more I respond to the naysayers, the less I have of myself. I don’t have to convince anybody. And nine times out of 10 the people who are haters are not convinceable anyway."
* Obama’s Health Care Promise Named “Lie of the Year” -- "This week, the political fact-checking website PolitiFact named the president’s statement, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” the organization’s “Lie of the Year.”"
* The NSA is out of control and must be stopped -- "The National Security Agency is breaking trust in democracy by breaking trust in the internet. Every day, the NSA records the lives of millions of Americans and countless foreigners, collecting staggering amounts of information about who they know, where they've been, and what they've done."
* U.S. judge orders landmark California cross taken down "The case hinged on whether it is legal for a religious symbol to be prominently displayed on public land and whether the cross violated the U.S. Constitution's requirement on separation of church and state."

Friday, December 13, 2013

3 questions and their answers

How would you answer the following questions, and why?

1. Does an African-American printer have the right to refuse to print brochures for a Ku Klux Klan rally?
2. Does a Christian printer have the right to refuse to print brochures for a Gay Rights rally?
3. Does a Pro-choice printer have the right to refuse to print brochures for a Pro-Life rally?

Said about song books, music and singing

"To have good church music we must have good music in our families, and nothing is better calculated to bring happiness to our firesides.  Families, like churches, cannot harbor divisions and discord when all regularly unite in making good music." -- Ivy Daggan

"I have endeavoured to make this book a complete Musical Companion for the aged as well as the youth. Those that are partial to ancient music, will find here some good old acquaintances which will cause them to remember with pleasure the scenes of life that are past and gone; while my youthful companions, who are more fond of modern music, I hope will find a sufficient number of new tunes to satisfy them, as I have spared no pains in trying to select such tunes as would meet the wishes of the public." -- William Walker, 1835

"Music is a sensation of pleasure produced in the mind by means of sounds." -- Elam Ives, Jr.

"The Law allowed the poor to bring turtledoves...At some level, we are all musically poor. Our finest hymns are humble little offerings compared to the music of heaven." -- James S. Martin

"Music is of divine origin, for we learn that when the corner stone of earth was laid, the Morning Stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." -- James S. Warren, Jr.

“Tunes for the Psalmes, I find none set of God: so that each people is to use the most grave, decent, and comfortable manner of singing that they know, according the general rule.  1 Cor 14: 26, 40.  ‘Let all things be done unto edifying.’  ‘Let all things be done decently, and in order.’  The singing notes, therefore, I have most taken from our former Englished Psalmes, when they will fit the measure of the verse: and for the other long verses, I have also taken (for the most part) the gravest and easiest of the French and Dutch Psalmes (Tunes.)” -- Henry Ainsworth (as quoted by Lowell Mason in The National Psalmist)

"Next to the Bible is your Hymn Book." -- American Baptist Hymnal preface

"It is as much the duty of those who have the ability, to learn to sing the praises of God as it is to learn his word." -- 1844 Sacred Harp

“I believe that music is one of the most powerful agents for good or evil.” -- Dwight L. Moody

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Baptist Joke

Did you hear about the two Baptists that met while vacationing in England? One was from America and the other was from Germany. After dinner the American Baptist lit a cigar and began to smoke. The German Baptist was highly offended. He was so shocked he almost spilled his beer.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Exhibit 2, Organ drowned

The city of Houston in southeast Texas was initially built on the south bank of Buffalo Bayou. The bayou begins its trek near Katy in northern Fort Bend County, and flows east across Harris County. Texas's final battle for Independence was fought along the banks where the bayou feeds into the San Jacinto River. The old bayou also plays a part in what was one of the first "worship wars" of Texas Baptists. When it was dredged in the late 1800s, pray tell what might have been found?

The first Baptist Church in Houston was constituted in 1841. The early life of this young body was troubled around about by many things -- not the least being the introduction of an organ to aid the music (circa 1847, after the building of the first house of worship). According to B. F. Riley's History of the Baptists of Texas, the organ's appearance and disappearance were equally mysterious. " organ...was put by some one unknown, into the First Church of Houston, and became the occasion of no little disturbance. The consciences of some of the saints were wounded by the presence of so ungodly a thing, and the agitation reached such a pitch, that the instrument suddenly disappeared. It was afterward found in the bottom of Buffalo Bayou, which flows through the city, going as it came, it is not known how."

Burning and drowning organs might seem a bit harsh -- even ungodly -- by most 21st century standards. But by 19th century standards such righteous indignation was well raised. David Benedict, writing of Fifty Years Among the Baptists in 1860 stated, "Staunch old Baptists in former times would as soon have tolerated the Pope of Rome in their pulpits as an organ in their galleries..." (Page 283)

10 links to 10 stories

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* A do-ahead breakfast to bake while you celebrate -- "With all those presents to open, nobody wants to spend Christmas morning in the kitchen."
* 'A Public Safety Disaster': ObamaCare Could Force THOUSANDS of Volunteer Fire Departments to Close -- "Volunteer fire departments all across the U.S. could find themselves out of money and unable to operate unless Congress or the Obama Administration exempts them from the Affordable Care Act."
* Colorado boy, 6, suspended, accused of sexual harassment for kissing girl on cheek -- "Sandy Wurtele, a child psychologist, was critical about the district's decision to punish the boy over the kiss."
* Cuban-American lawmakers dismayed over Obama handshake with 'thug' Castro -- "Cuban-American lawmakers expressed their displeasure Tuesday over President Obama shaking the hand of Raul Castro during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela."
* For Interfaith Gay Couples, Just One Obstacle Is Cleared -- "As tolerance for same-sex marriage rapidly grows, interfaith gay couples are finding that the same spiritual leaders who support the civil right to wed might object on theological grounds to religiously mixed ceremonies."
* Man sleeps for 10 hours unaware of knife stuck in his back -- "A Trenton man slept soundly for about 10 hours with a knife stuck in the middle of his back Sunday before discovering he had been stabbed during a fistfight on his porch, police said today."
* Mystery 'Tips for Jesus' tipper identified in NYC -- "The generous mystery tipper who has been leaving waiters and waitresses across the country thousands of dollars in 'Tips for Jesus' — and stamped with the @tipsforjesus handle — was identified by a New York City waiter as Jack Selby, former PayPal vice president."
* Stocks Lower After Hitting Record -- "While the market continues to test new heights, few investors believe stocks will move significantly higher from these levels in the short run."
* Tom Cruise, John Travolta Attend Dedication Of 'Super Power' Scientology Building In Florida -- "The building will host Scientology's first "Super Power" program, developed in the 1970s by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard."
* Toomey amendment would exempt more faith groups from ENDA -- "Under Toomey's plan, exemptions from the ban would cover organizations managed by a church or religious group, those formally affiliated with a particular religion, or those that teach a curriculum directed toward propagating a particular religion."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Exhibit 1, Organ burned

I Remember When...They Burned the Organ!
Our family attended the Mt. Bethel Church, and until I was a good-sized boy they had no musical accompaniment to their singing. Indeed, few enjoyed such then. The song leader arrived at the pitch for the song with which he felt comfortable as best he could. At our church the song leader used a tuning-fork. That little instrument fascinated me. I watched him adjust a sliding bar on the instrument, strike the tuning-fork lightly against his shoe heel, lift it to his ear, sound the pitch for the audience and then lead the song.
The tuning-fork worked quite well, but many wanted to purchase an organ for use with the singing. Finally, after considerable debate, the church voted to buy an organ. (Incidentally, many churches then frowned upon the use of a piano. Pianos were associated with places of worldly amusement -- dance halls and the like.)
The decision to purchase the organ at Mt. Bethel Church was by no means unanimous and several members left the church. Some of them never went to church anywhere afterward. Others joined nearby churches...
The church installed the organ, one of those old-time "pump" or "pedal" kind. But they did not for long enjoy the use of it. The people were shocked when they arrived at the church house the following Sunday morning, discovered the organ missing and even more so when they discovered the still smouldering embers of it in the church yard.
Someone notified the county sheriff, and he brought along two tracking dogs, but neither man nor dog could find the culprits. No arrest was ever made in the incident. However, the church promptly purchased another musical instrument -- a piano. There were no further such incidents and the church enjoyed the use of that piano for many years.
-- O. H. Griffith, From the Sweetgum Grove Bulletin, 1990; Brother Griffith was born in 1914, so this incident probably happened (in Panola County, Texas) between 1920 and 1930

Monday, December 09, 2013

2 things I've noticed

At 98 you say what you want and let the chips fall where they may.

When we talk about sin and repentance, we focus on the drunkard in the gutter and the harlot on the street corner. When God wrote a book about repentance, He chose the best man around (Job).

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Two funny quotes of questionable veracity

Advisors: General Grant drinks too much.
President Lincoln: Then find out what he drinks, and send my other generals a case!
Advisor: Your officer is a madman.
King George II: Then I hope he will bite some of my generals and make them mad, too.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Miscellaneous links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* Alabama Football Fans Send Death Threats to Cade Foster -- "More-than-disgruntled fans have taken to Twitter to air their grievances, threatening Foster’s life and telling him to drink bleach and never return to campus."
* People Beat Each Other Up Over Towels At Walmart On Black Friday -- "Not only were people buying towels at Walmart, the Wall Street Journal's Tom Gara found that customers were turning violent to buy inexpensive ones."
* Televangelist Paul Crouch dies at 79 -- "Crouch died at his home in Orange, Calif., on Saturday after a decade-long fight with degenerative heart disease, his grandson Brandon Crouch told The Associated Press."
      * FBC and TBN: What Paul Crouch’s Life Tells Us about Southern Baptists in the Twenty-First Century -- "...we must ask ourselves whether churches are healthier and more numerous because of TBN."
* Top 10 Yahoo Searches of 2013 -- "Two different digital revolutions make the Top 10 this year."

Book Recommendation
* Like Cords Around My Heart: a Sacred Harp Memoir -- "Remiscences of Buell Cobb's 50-something years singing Sacred Harp."

Thursday, December 05, 2013

To Train Up a Child

'To Train Up a Child' linked to deaths -- "Gary Tuchman speaks with author of 'To Train Up a Child', a parenting book linked to several deaths."

Recent and not so recent news have tried to link Michael and Debi Pearl's book To Train Up a Child with deaths in three child abuse cases. CBS asks, "Is Conservative Christian Group, No Greater Joy Ministries, Pushing Parents to Beat Kids to Death?"

I am afraid much of the animus against the Pearls and their book is driven by an "anti-corporal punishment" agenda. Apparently there is an organized effort to flame the book on Amazon. I remember reading the book back in the 1990s, and didn't notice anything that would encourage parents to beat or starve their children. In fact, in my memory, the biggest thing that stands out is the admonition for consistent and deliberate training of children -- as opposed to that which is inconsistent and haphazard.

The Pearls personally and in their book teach against child abuse. Even if you disagree with their methods, please don't be so reckless as to accuse them with promoting abuse and murder.

Responses and Links
* Dead child's mom sought discipline tips
* Hana Williams’ Death – Official Statement
* Response to Schatz case
* Was child abused to death due to advice from book?

3 Poetical quotes

Of all the troubles mankind’s got
Some can be cured and some cannot;
If there is a cure, find it,
If not, never mind it.
   -- Copied, author unknown

On a battered beauty.
Hair, wax, rouge, honey, teeth, you buy,
A multifarious store!
A mask at once would all supply,
Nor would it cost you more.
   -- William Cowper (The Works of William Cowper: His Life, Letters, and Poems)

To Demosthenes.
It flatters and deceives thy view,
This mirror of ill-polish'd ore;
For, were it just, and told thee true,
Thou wouldst consult it never more.
   -- William Cowper (The Works of William Cowper: His Life, Letters, and Poems)

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


SELF-EXCUSE by John Leland (1754-1841)
In the year 1785, there lived in the city of Richmond (VA) a free negro woman who by her parsimony obtained money enough to purchase her husband, who was a slave. The woman being a member of the Baptist church in that city, was complained of before the church, for allowing of lewd conduct in her house. She did not deny the truth of the charge, but excused herself thus, "Pray how can I help it? My husband is the head, and does as he pleases; and I, who am his wife, cannot help it." At the same meeting, another charge was brought against her, for whipping her husband; to which she replied, "I bought him with my own money — he is my legal property, and he shall mind me; otherwise, I will whip him."
As printed in The Baptist Waymark, Vol. IV, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1996, p. 4

Eager evangelism

“Of course an eager evangelist might argue that getting a person down the aisle to make a public profession is always in the 'best interest' of the professing person, but the millions of inactive religious converts suggest that some of those lured down the aisle hated themselves and the evangelists the next morning. Seduction was the way of the serpent, not the way of Christ. The use of conversion statistics for personal promotion implies a scalp-gathering mentality that is for the advantage of the persuader.” -- Raymond Bailey in Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, Michael Duduit, editor

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

8 Quotable quotes

"I was once paid to be good. Now I'm good for nothing." -- Retired pastor

"When Christians hang out with other Christians, we wear masks." -- Steve Brown

“God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.” -- Charles H. Spurgeon

“If there is any part of creation outside of God's sovereignty, then God is simply not sovereign...If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God's sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.” -- R. C. Sproul

“The essence of Christian maturity is to have a high tolerance for ambiguity.” -- Steve Brown

“The goal of chastening is not mere outward conformity to established standards, but an inner commitment of the heart and will to obey biblical mandates because it is right to obey.” -- Childhood Education in the Church

"Opportunity knocks. Trouble kicks in the door." -- copied

“The idea that...the recitation of certain words and the performance of certain rites, can save a soul, is contrary to the teachings of the Word of God. Salvation comes to the soul that comes to salvation. Forgiving Saviour and penitent sinner meet.” -- O. C. S. Wallace

Monday, December 02, 2013

I wish...

I wish that folks would promote their vision on the merits of their vision and not on the demerits of the vision of others. Will yours stand on its own merits? Why not try it? Maybe you'll like it.

I'm thinking of art, fashion, opinion and such like. There are topics -- such as morals, where half of the discussion is pointing out what is immoral -- that require the negative alongside the positive.

Let me use Sacred Harp and its history as an example. In the early 20th century we had 3 different "visions" of where the music, books and singing conventions should go.* Each made its own way, with not a little strife and rancor. Yet in modern times the good of the whole has often been thought greater than the good of the vision of the part (or "third"). But not always so.

There are discussions we need to have. All the differences don't need to be swept under a rug to pretend they don't exist. This is not the way forward. I've engaged in some spirited discussions regarding our music and its history. For a time we pretended that the James Book altos could have miraculously and accidentally came out the same as other previously written altos without any copying. But that doesn't access reality. For whatever reasons and in whatever manner, in his book J. S. James credited altos as their own editorial work when they obviously came from somewhere else. The Cooper book folks paid in kind, going all "Daniel Read" on them, arranging James book tunes, and printing them as their own.** And both of these streams were outside the White family, who should have had the rights to book (at least ethically so, if not legally). These kinds of things leave a bad taste all around, and rightly so.

Discuss passionately what ought to be discussed. Make your arguments. Hold firm to your favorite revision. But don't stab in the back your fellow singers who also love their particular revision. Don't blind-side them with "back room deals". Let's be open and above board.

When I interviewed Bill Reynolds in 1997, he was clear that his preference was the Denson Revision of The Sacred Harp. But he added, "I like my coffee black, but don't mind if you want to dilute yours with milk and sugar."*** While I would now dispute the allusion that James/Denson stream of Sacred Harp is undiluted, I heartily recommend Reynolds's spirit of the matter. We should adopt it. De gustibus non est disputandum ("There is no disputing of tastes"). Yes, that's right. One book is not "better" than another. It is a matter of taste.

Because I am vocal in pointing out what I believe are historical errors and misstatements about the Cooper Book -- the book of my singing heritage -- I may be perceived of as against the other books. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When a group formed to reprint the The Sacred Harp, 4th Edition with Supplement ("J. L. White vision"), I made a donation toward that goal. It was a day I had hoped for long before that. When Warren Steel compiled history of the composers represented in the 1991 Edition of the Sacred Harp ("James vision"), I waded in to see how I could help. When shares became available for the Sacred Harp Publishing Company, I bought stock. From the sidelines I have cheered as other shape-note books have been compiled, and bought into The Trumpet idea to print new tunes by shape-note composers from all three visions (and beyond). Knowing The B. F. White Sacred Harp ("Cooper vision") would be reprinted, I shared my opinions on how I thought we could make it the best book it could be. Some ideas I had were accepted & some were rejected. 

Just because we work hardest on our own farm doesn't mean we want (or should want) the worst for someone else's!

Is there history you don't like? Are there songs you don't prefer? Is there an editorial choice that just grates on your nerves? Likely so. Some songs may not contain your preferred stanzas. One book may not contain your favorite song. But they are hardly pedestrian pablum or shameful substances  just because of that. We can sing songs from all the books, and choose the songs we prefer when and where we are able. When you can't, do unto you neighbors as you would have them do unto you. Sing their songs.

Rather than judge so severely, we can instead extend the grace of the words of the great English poet William Cowper, which are found on page 168 in all three Sacred Harps: "Forgive the song that falls so low, beneath the gratitude I owe."

* The W. M. Cooper revision, the J. S. James revision, and the J. L. White 4th edition w/supplement
** "It is not only ungenerous but unjust to publish the works of any author without his consent.---Irritated beyond measure at the unprovoked robbery committed upon the American Singing Book by the Editor of the Worcester Collection and having no redress but by retaliation there being then no law in existance (sic) to prevent such abuses I availed myself of that opportunity to publish some peices (sic) from the Worcester Collection to which I had no right." -- Excerpt of a June 1793 letter from Daniel Read to Jacob French, as printed in Music in the USA: a Documentary Companion, Judith Tick, editor, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 74). The original manuscripts are among the Daniel Read Papers at the New Haven Colony Historical Society in New Haven, Connecticut.
*** Away Here in Texas, March-April 1997, p. 8